Originally posted on The EEC Blog…

Fans of Star Wars will know the reference ‘A New Hope’, it’s the subtitle to the first, ground-breaking film Lucas released in 1977. It’s now 38 years later—fans and nerds alike are pacing in circles waiting for the December release of episode 7. What does this have to do with email marketing? Nothing. Everything.

We’re a week into 2015 and I’m predicting we’ll see much of the same behavior that characterized email marketing circa 2014. My hope is that good holiday sales, a rebounding economy, and the general prosperous gestalt that seems to be everywhere finds its way into marketing budgets to adopt tools that ensure the ongoing success of email as a channel.

Here’s what you should be concerned with in 2015 that you may have tabled behind more ‘important’ initiatives in 2014:

  • Your transactional mail is just as important as your marketing mail.That’s right! Transactional mail, you know that welcome message that nothing short of a ‘first date’, or the all-important password reset that let’s you use your account or make a transaction, these things have to be prioritized over the batches of 20% coupons that you’re sending. I’m guessing there are still oodles of companies out there that have no clue if their transactional and triggered messages are getting stuck behind batched campaigns. Spend the time to get it right: get the password reset out first, make sure welcome messages don’t arrive 3 or 4 days later with the information someone needs on day 1, and that receipts and confirmations that decrease calls for customer service get to where they’re going without being impeded by sales messages or newsletters.
  • Yep mobile is still important. If you’re not responsive all the time then half of your audience isn’t getting the same rendering experience as your other half. With the number of devices in the wild today you have to assume that your email is viewed on dozens of different mobile devices and browsers on displays stretched to extreme letterbox proportions (and curved—coming soon to a desktop near you). So the importance of ensuring a smooth experience regardless of the device or platform is paramount. Part of a mobile device’s unstated purpose is to diminish the barriers from browse to buy by deep linking to a native mobile app via a received email; if the initial rendering of the email is poor the likelihood of using an app as the next step in the customer journey is scant at best.
  • Inbox & Verse were unleashed by the Sith! Don’t worry, the sky isn’t falling because Google decided to reinvent email by launching Inbox, nor is IBM’s Verse going to cause CTRs and open rates to plummet. These are efficiency tools that were built in hopes that people agree to the fact that Google and IBM both know much better about how and what you want to read and experience in your inbox. When Google Tabs were launched the industry cried foul and proclaimed that the sky would fall. We’re still here. I predict that these tools will have a limited following and if their algorithms are worth their salt they will simply prove out that the most engaging brands and communications, the ones customers want to read, will remain top of mind and top of inbox. That is all.
  • The proof is in the pudding. Now what?! Here’s what you need to know: depending on whom you read mobile traffic accounted for 45% of all online traffic during the holidays. Nearly a quarter of all online sales were generated via mobile. And finally, more men shop on smartphones than women, this is true in my house given my wife uses my Amazon account (or orders me to use it). The fact of the matter is that every holiday season results in a wealth of data—it’s stacking up all around you, petabytes of behavioral analytics that you should leverage throughout the year. My prediction is that some of the potential, and here I stress potential, that like the force, it’s all around you, it’s really up to each and everyone one of us to use the data at our fingertips in meaningful ways. The holidays are not an event; it’s the gift that should keep on giving through out 2015 and beyond.